Last summer I was lucky enough to head to the south of France for a quick family reunion. What I thought was going to be a ridiculously hectic trip filled with touring and catching up with relatives, actually turned out to be quite pleasant and even a little bit relaxing. I found a few moments to sneak away to the beach and was even surprised with a special stop at the Thalazur Thallasothèrapie & Spa in Antibes (courtesy of my cousin).

These Thalazur spas are apparently all over Europe, and they resemble more of a clinic than anything else. In fact, the experience is focused on healing and therapy as opposed to the common pampering and indulgent American spa setting.

Another difference was that the appointments were much shorter. They offer increments of 20-30 minutes and, get ready for this — the locker rooms are co-ed. Imagine my surprise when I was caught in my birthday suit by a much (much) older man. I realize that the French aren't shy — they sunbathe topless for heaven's sake — but I felt prudish when I recoiled and sought some privacy.

To read about my treatments,


I received a face massage and algae body wrap, and during the lag time I dipped my toes in the salt-water pool, which is believed to heal and balance the body. The face massage consisted of an esthetician taking a look at my skin and inquiring about its redness. Considering my face is always a little bit pink, I soon realized this woman had intentions to help even out my skin tone — yay. The massage was quick, but my face felt cooler and was almost immediately more hydrated and calm.

For the body wrap, a different woman slathered mud on my body and wrapped me in cellophane followed by a heated plastic blanket. At first I thought I was going to panic because my arms were constrained but it was quite relaxing and I thought all about the benefits that fangotherapy would have on my skin. Overall, the experience was delightful and educational but definitely not as organized and luxe as other luxury spas. Does anyone else have any unique spa experiences they'd care to share?